I've said before how much I dislike doing things for the first time. Reading books is fine, and watching plays, but when it comes to films and albums, your first impressions are to be distrusted at all costs. Your first exposure to something is an experience to get out of the way as soon as possible. Only once it's been overcome and your mind's free of preconception and prejudice can you truly appreciate what's there to be appreciated.
First listens are problematic enough when it's an album by The National or My Bloody Valentine, but when it's your very favourite band? How are you supposed to approach something so weighty?
One of two ways. Either you make the circumstances as informal and off-hand as possible or you go to great lengths to make things special and memorable. Having pre-ordered it the night it was announced, I had always assumed that my first listen to Tomorrow's Harvest – the new Boards of Canada – would be on headphones, in the dark, on vinyl. Yeah. I'm one of them.
I'd completely forgotten, though, that my vinyl pre-order also came with an MP3 download code. And last night I found myself alone in the dark, a little drunk, a bit sad and quite scared. Perfect circumstances, I thought, to listen to Tomorrow's Harvest for the first time.
But it seems I was more drunk than I previously thought. Because I woke up this morning with no recollection of having listened to the album. However, I find that I'd posted a stream of hysterical messages on Twitter, along with a series of images sourced from lord knows where.
Looking at those messages and images this morning, I realise two things. First of all, that I must have had rather a lot of wine last night. Second of all, that I must listen to Tomorrow's Harvest again as soon as possible.
“62 minutes and I'm in love with life again (if a little terrified of the future)”
“IT'S THAT GOOD. IT'S FUTURE FEAR AND PAST YEARNING UNITED IN PRESENT BALM”
“Hey, Boards of Canada? You make EVERYTHING seem OK. I need you. As it happens. Who knew?”
“Oh lord. This is already filling the hole only partially filled by Pye Audio Corner and Ghost Box over the past 8 years.”
“NO MUSIC HAS EVER BEEN OR WILL EVER BE BETTER ARGH I'VE MISSED THEM SO MUCH”
“THIS IS WHY MY DREAMS HAVE BEEN SO MONOCHROMATIC FOR THE PAST 8 YEARS DON'T LEAVE ME AGAIN”
That, evidently, is how you handle first listens. It turns out you have to be drunk and it has to be dark.